Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. AFC Bournemouth
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Manchester United ended their league campaign with a comfortable 3-1 victory against AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford.
Being a standalone fixture on the back of Sunday’s postponement, captain Wayne Rooney scored his 100th Premier League goal at Old Trafford just before half-time.
Breakthrough star Marcus Rashford bagged his eighth goal in 17 appearances since his February debut, with substitute Ashley Young adding a third before Chris Smalling’s own goal brought about a consolation for the Cherries.
On a subdued evening, the contest took half an hour to get going, with Rooney’s deep free-kick just evading the outstretched leg of Michael Carrick.
Good work down their right from Bournemouth ended with Marc Pugh’s on target strike being blocked by Antonio Valencia with the game becoming more open.
The next moment of note was certainly eye-catching, as Rooney began the move that led to his goal by spreading the play out wide to Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, whose in-field pass allowed Anthony Martial to play a give-and-go with Juan Mata, with Martial’s low cross dummied by Rashford as Rooney stroked home a first time finish.
After the interval, Callum Wilson saw a shot blocked by Smalling as Dan Gosling fired over after Marc Pugh teed up the midfielder.
Another neat move by United ended with Steve Cook bringing down Mata inside the area, but referee Jonathan Moss deemed it a fair challenge, as Michael Carrick rattled the bar from range on what may be his final Old Trafford appearance.
It needed a fine save by Adam Federici to tip over Antonio Valencia’s venomous drive from range, as Smalling headed wide from the resulting Daley Blind corner.
Shifting the ball onto his right foot, Mata saw a shot held, before United doubled their lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Rooney, dictating the play from a deeper role, swung a pass towards the back post in which Valencia’s headed knockdown fell at the feet of Rashford, who lashed home into the far corner.
It was Rooney the creator again as his dinked pass found Young who was onside, and after taking a touch to control, his scuffed finish crossed the line despite the ball brushing Federici on its way through.
Fans Player of the Year David De Gea was denied the sharing of the golden glove after Lewis Grabban’s cross was struck by Max Gradel and the ball flicked off Smalling in stoppage time for 3-1.
Full-time arrived as the players took up their lap of honour, with United bizarrely ending the season with the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 35 goals along with Tottenham Hotspur.
It was the attacking nature that sees United round off their league campaign in an underwhelming fifth place, scoring just 49 goals, where nine teams outscored the club, with six others also pushing their tally into the 40s.
Nonetheless, the chance to end the season on a high and with silverware arrives this Saturday, where Louis van Gaal’s side take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final.
A 5:30pm kick-off will commence such fixture, where United are looking for their first trophy since 2013, first domestic cup since 2010, first FA Cup since 2004 and first FA Cup triumph at Wembley since 1999.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson; Carrick; Lingard, Rooney, Mata (Herrera 75), Martial (Young 84); Rashford (Memphis 79).
Subs: Romero, Jones, Varela, Young, Herrera, Pereira, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Bournemouth: Federici; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Pugh (Gradel 67); Wilson (Grabban 79), King (Afobe 67).
Subs: Holmes, Gradel, Stanislas, Afobe, Grabban, O’Kane, Jordan.
Manager: Eddie Howe